Syria’s government forces may control eastern Syria again. Thanks to President Trump.

8 October 2019 By Paul Martin

I drove right past it earlier this year on the way to the home of a Syrian Kurd who worked for a local private television production company. His office is in the centre of the town, firmly in Kurdish hands.

Nearby, a busload of Syrian Kurds was about to undertake a 15-hour ride to Damascus, the Syrian capital. Though there would be checkpoints and document searches by Syrian government soldiers just a mile away near the airport, controlled by Syria’s regime, the Syrian Kurds had no such infrastructure.

American troops, for several years, would pass through the city on the way to their bases at an oilfield and at a Tigris river crossing.

It’s easy to see, though, a scenario in which President Bashar al-Assad’s forces would be able to take control of much of the territory now held by the predominantly Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), a local coalition of Kurds and Sunnis fighting (until days ago) under the aegis of the USA. In the process of battles mainly against ISIS the SDF has made a huge sacrifice, losing an estimated 11,000 soldiers.

Now these Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Syrian Kurds (YPG), will be weakened in much of their currently-held territory – as they concentrate on the north to defend part of their land from the expected Turkish incursion. The Kurdish leadership also fear that the Turks will seize many of their lucrative oilfields, the lifeblood of the Syrian Kurds’ economy.

The SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali has accused the USA of turning eastern and northern Syria into a “war zone” again.

President Trump has already shown he has no appetite for ground-force confrontation against any incursion from the Syrian Kurds’ arch-enemy Turkey – though he has also warned the Turks they face economic annihilation if they do not keep their word.

Mr Assad may soon take advantage. And it could be done not by fighting but by some tacit or actual agreement. The Syrian Kurds may be desperate enough to consider the Syrian regime as the best of the three evils.

Pages: 1 2